A British mezzo soprano has been chosen to provide the official song for the Pope's Jubilee Year of Mercy celebrations in Rome.
Nottinghamshire-born Carly Paoli's track, Ave Maria has been chosen by the Vatican as the official song of the Jubilee Tours for visitors the Eternal City throughout 2016.
Nearly eight million pilgrims have already visited Rome this year to take part in the Jubilee events and official walking tours of the city. Ave Maria was officially launched on Tuesday at the Lateran Palace in Rome with Monsignor Liberio Andreatta, CEO of Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, the Vatican's pilgrimage agency.
Carly, who was born in the UK but spent summers with her family in southern Italy and is fluent in Italian, said: "I am blessed that Ave Maria has been chosen as part of the Jubilee Celebrations. "Ave Maria is a beautiful song which I hope echoes the theme of Mercy the Holy Father has declared for the Jubilee year.
"I first met Monsignor Andreatta last summer when he came to Caracalla to the UNICEF show where I performed with Andrea Bocelli and Jose Carreras.
"He told me backstage that he loved Ave Maria and its message of hope and wanted to find a way to share that message around the world. I feel humbled to be part of the Holy Year of Mercy and honoured that Ave Maria will play a part in such a special year for the Church."
Monsignor Andreatta added: "Carly is beautiful and very talented. Her voice brings across the emotion of this important song in a beautiful way.
"St Peter was a fisherman of the sea. We fished from the seas from the south of Italy and we found Carly Paoli."
The official video for Ave Maria is available to watch on YouTube, www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYckpiPhacA, and to download on iTunes with half of the proceeds going to the Vatican's chosen charity fund.
The track, written by songwriter Grant Black - son of Oscar-winning lyricist Don Black - is also set to be played on Vatican Radio.
The new song will also be available via the official Jubilee Guide app to guide pilgrims following one of four official Jubilee Tours of Rome; The Papal Route, The Route of Mercy, The Pilgrim's Route and the Marian Route.
Carly Paoli is one of the world's most in-demand classical performers since making her international debut with 16-times Grammy Award winner David Foster in 2014. Since then she has performed with acts including Reba McEntire and Carrie Underwood and last month performed for guests including boxing legend Muhammad Ali at the Celebrity Fight Night fundraiser in Phoenix, Arizona.
In June 2015 Miss Paoli was invited to perform for the Prince of Wales at Windsor Castle. In June 2015 Carly also headlined a one-off concert in Rome where she duetted with legendary Three Tenors singer Jose Carreras and Andrea Bocelli.
Carly is currently recording her debut album with composer Romano Musumarra, producer Walter Afanasieff - whose credits include Titanic theme My Heart Will Go On - and Oscar- winning song-writer Don Black.
Ave Maria is available to download now: